This morning, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling set out a new rail strategy, including plans to end the operational divide between train and track, as well as an evolution of the franchising system.
The sweeping new proposals will create joined up organisations running both track and train, rather than the current system where the track is managed by National Rail and the trains by the relevant Train Operating Company.
The evolution of the franchising system would mean smaller train companies, with less of a ‘one size fits all’ policy. This would include the splitting up of the current Govia franchise, made up of Southern, Southeastern, Great Northern and Thameslink. Smaller franchises managing both track and train means more accountability and that every line, station and passenger will be more central to the operators’ focus.
Commenting on the news, Nus Ghani said: “I welcome the announcement today of the simplification of what is at the moment a very complex and overbearing rail system. The splitting up of the Govia franchise will mean more focus on Southern, and more focus on the thousands of my constituents who depend on their service across Wealden.
However, I was disappointed not to see any extra money or commitments towards the electrification of the Uckfield line. The Gibb Report in June endorsed electrification of the Uckfield line, and this was an excellent opportunity to commit to electrification for the sake of the thousands of passengers who have had to put up with a dire service for far too long.
I will be asking for a meeting with the Transport Secretary to further push for electrification. While the new rail strategy is a welcome step forward, there is much more we can do and I will be working closely with the Department for Transport to make sure that happens.”